The Eritrea national football team began in 1992. The team affiliated to FIFA in 1998. Eritrea has been a member of the Confederation of African Football since 1994.
Eritrea’s first international match was a 1-1 draw against Sudan in 1992. The game was part of a friendly tournament hosted in Sudan. Unusually, the team represented an independent Eritrea when the country was still legally a part of Ethiopia. Though an agreement had been signed for independence, it did not take effect until 1993.
Football in Eritrea took off after the team affiliated to FIFA in the late 1990’s. The team began entering the African Cup of Nations and the world cup after the millennium.
World cup qualifying has not yet yielded much success for the Eritrea national football team. The 2002 competition saw the team draw 0-0 and lose 4-0 to Nigeria. Four years later the team managed to improve by just a single goal. In two games against Sudan, the team drew 0-0 and lost 3-0.
Several national team players have left the country in recent years after continuing instability in the region. After a 2009 game in Kenya, up to twelve players took the chance to disappear. After a number of such incidents, the Eritrean government began to require hefty security before travelling.
Eritrea withdrew from tournaments after the runaways. This included the 2010 African Cup of Nations which doubled as 2010 world cup qualifying.
The team returned to competition in 2009 with a young team for the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations Cup. With a win, a draw and a loss after three games the team progressed to the second round. Tanzania were too strong for Eritrea in the knock-out round and ran out 4-0 winners. After the competition, another twelve players failed to return home. This time Kenya granted the players asylum and most later moved to Australia to play football.
Ranked 201st by FIFA, Eritrea may soon fall further if they can’t hold on to their better players after away matches.
World cup 2018
Fixtures to be announced.
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